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The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) has welcomed a pledge by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to support global efforts to halve medication errors within the next five years.

The Commission’s bid aligns with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) third Global Patient Safety Challenge, unveiled last month.

The drive to reduce the harm caused by medication mix-ups aims to help countries strengthen their health systems and save an estimated $54 billion annually.

WHO’s Western Pacific launch of ‘Medication Without Harm’ took place in Brisbane last month, with SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels backing the importance of focusing on curbing the largely preventable aspect of patient injury and harm.

“It is fantastic to see the weight of WHO driving this global campaign, which will help health systems improve each stage of the medicines management pathway, including influencing prescribing, dispensing, administering, clinical review and monitoring, and supporting improvements in patient understanding of the medicines they are taking,” Ms Michaels said.

About 230,000 hospital admissions across Australia each year are medicines related and involve errors in prescribing, dispensing, administration or poor monitoring and transitional care arrangements, costing an estimated $1.2 billion annually.

Ms Michaels said hospital pharmacists play a significant role in reducing medication errors.

“Local and international research shows time and again that the expertise of hospital pharmacists is indispensable in multidisciplinary medical teams and that they provide a crucial link to ensure seamless care and quality use of medicines when patients leave hospital and head home.”

Ms Michaels highlighted that hospital pharmacists were committed to leading the way in research in a bid to influence nationwide improvements to how risk minimisation innovations are advocated for, and medications safety education framed.